Microstructural Integrity of a Pathway Connecting the Prefrontal Cortex and Amygdala Moderates the Association Between Cognitive Reappraisal and Negative Emotions

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Cognitive reappraisal is a commonly used form of emotion regulation that utilizes frontal-executive control to reframe an approaching emotional event to moderate its potential psychological impact. Use of cognitive reappraisal has been associated with diminished experience of anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as greater overall well-being. Using data from a study of 647 healthy young adults, we provide initial evidence that an association between typical use of cognitive reappraisal in daily life and the experience of anxiety and depressive symptoms is moderated by the microstructural integrity of the uncinate fasciculus, which provides a major anatomical link between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Our findings are consistent with the nature of top-down regulation of bottom-up negative emotions and suggest the uncinate fasciculus may be a useful target in the search for biomarkers predicting not only disorder risk but also response to psychotherapy utilizing cognitive reappraisal.

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